British-Australian academic transferred to ‘notorious’ Iran jail

A British-Australian university lecturer jailed in Iran on spying charges has been moved to a notorious women’s prison, a human rights group has said.

Kylie Moore-Gilbert has been transferred from Evin prison to Qarchak prison, a desert facility notorious for its poor conditions and overcrowding, the Centre for Supporters of Human Rights said.

The group said its information came from Reza Khandan whose wife, human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, is also imprisoned in Evin.

Image:
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been held in Iran since 2016

In a Facebook post, Mr Khandan said Dr Moore-Gilbert was moved for “punishment”.

Qarchak is around 33 miles (58km) south of Evin and houses prisoners convicted of murder as well as drugs offences, Mr Khandan wrote.

Inmates, who include political prisoners, are not separated according to their crimes, campaign group Women Are Force For Change said.

Ms Moore-Gilbert has been held in Evin, the same jail as British-Iranian mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, after reportedly being given a 10-year sentence for spying.

The Cambridge-educated academic specialises in Middle Eastern politics, lectures in Islamic Studies at Melbourne University and has published works on the 2011 Arab uprisings and on authoritarian governments.

She spent almost two years sleeping on the floor in a cell in the capital Tehran, the BBC said, quoting a friend.

The lecturer was arrested in September 2018 after attending an academic conference, at which she was invited to speak, in the city of Qom, around 90 miles south of Tehran.

She was reported as “suspicious” to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards by fellow conference delegates and someone she was interviewing and arrested at Tehran airport as she prepared to fly out of the country, the Guardian said.

Letters smuggled out of prison and published in January revealed the lecturer’s fears for her mental health.

She said: “I’m taking psychiatric medications, but these 10 months that I have spent here have gravely damaged my mental health.

“I am still denied phone calls and visitations, and I am afraid that my mental and emotional state may further deteriorate if I remain in this extremely restrictive detention ward.”

She also appeared to suggest she had been offered the chance to become a spy.

“I am not a spy. I have never been a spy and I have no interest to work for a spying organisation in any country,” she wrote.

The UK is still seeking the release of Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has been held in Iran on spying charges since 2016.